Acropolis : Red Bull Skoda Team - Leg 1
The dominating force on today's first leg of Rally Acropolis was Finland's Marcus Gronholm
. He took over the lead from world champion Sebastien Loeb
with a fastest time on the first stage and extended it to 26.3 seconds over a chasing
Petter Solberg. Loeb is in third, his deficit to the front runner amounting to 35.5 seconds. After yesterday's 39 degrees centigrade, the thermometer climbed to 37 degrees today, with early patches of rain, but merciless sunshine in the afternoon.
Andreas Aigner, who is suffering from the flu since yesterday, performed reputably in 14th position: “The first few kilometres this morning were rather tough for me. I was hardly able to see the road, I transpired a lot and the sweat got into my eyes. Then my condition improved thanks to the antibiotics. My times were alright, but three tyre failures held me back. Thank goodness the mousse kept working every time. On SS6 I had a spin which cost me 17 seconds. Apart from that I'm happy, the Fabia WRC works like clockwork, the working relationship with my new co-driver Klaus Wicha is very good. I'm confident that I'll be able to improve over the course of the rally.”
Harri Rovanpera's interim result of P16 is a bit more problematic. Though the Finn was happy with the car, he was not with its setup: “I can't explain our problem. We tried to get rid of the car's understeering at the midday service, so we changed some settings, which subsequently proved to be not very useful. We need to continue to work hard to increase our speed, I hope that we'll find the problem over the next two days.
Team managers Raimund Baumschlager/Armin Schwarz commented on today's events with an interesting observation: “Both driver complained about the tracks on the roads. The Fabia WRC is four centimetres narrower than every other car. Therefore our car doesn't run in the ruts left by our competitors. Andreas' performance was very satisfactory, but we need to continue examining why Harri isn't up to speed at the evening service.”
A prominent visitor was joining Red Bull Skoda at the service park today: Max Egger, managing director of Intercar Austria, paid a visit to the team and was enthused about Rally Acropolis in general. “As a former participant it's very nice to come and see a rally again. The enthusiasm of the Greek fans for this WRC event is tremendous and impressing. I'll keep my fingers crossed for our team, everybody is working with enormous commitment.”
The team received a surprise visit by Michalis Mouroutsos. The Greek Olympic Champion in Tae Kwon Do stopped by the service park: “It's impressive what these people accomplish in this heat. Some drivers reported that on board the thermometer reaches almost seventy degrees.”
Press release Red Bull Skoda Team